Arguably not everyone’s cup of tea, Elvis is still a mighty achievement from director Baz Luhrmann. The Australian director and star Austin Butler nail the king of rock and roll and his seemingly endless sex appeal. The film chronicles Elvis’ rise to fame and stays with him all the way to his devastating, early death. Butler is all but a lock for a Best Actor nomination at this year’s Oscars for his transformative performance.
9. The Woman King
Viola Davis kicks ass in this story about the Agojie warriors of Dahomey. Davis plays the ruthless General Nanisca who must train new recruits to her army to keep their home safe from a powerful, new threat. Directed with style and vision by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the film is as thrilling as it is violent; from its first minutes, the Agojie are established as merciless and skilled warriors who will leave no survivors.
Barbarian, which is now on Disney+, has more twists and shocks than all the films on this list combined. Zac Cregger’s film starts as a tense psychological thriller about Tess who finds a mysterious man already staying at her booked AirBnb, but morphs into a whole different beast halfway through. Once you get over the insane plot twists, Barbarian actually has an awful lot to say about misogyny and gender. It’s definitely one of the best, wildest film thrill rides of 2022 and best watched without any knowledge of the plot beforehand.
7. She Said
It often feels like we are still too close to the #MeToo movement, we’re still in it. So it’s a small miracle that Maria Schrader’s She Said is as accomplished as it is, but this absolutely is one of the best films of 2022, easily. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play the two reporters who uncovered Harvey Weinstein’s horrendous, systemic abuse in this love letter to investigative journalism. Never has journalism been quite this tense and exciting.
6. Glass Onion
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; 2022 has been particularly good for sequels. Not only was Top Gun: Maverick far better than expected, Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is also a riot of fun. Daniel Craig returns as master sleuth Benoit Blanc to solve a brand new murder in this wickedly clever and funny whodunnit sequel. Whole cast, including Edward Norton, Dave Bautista and Kate Hudson, are having a blast and it shows. Glass Onion is both unpredictable and entertaining, perhaps even surpassing the first film.
5. Speak No Evil
Speak No Evil unfortunately didn’t get a cinema release in the UK, but it’s just as terrifying at home as it is on the big screen. This disturbing tale of a Swedish couple finding out the dangers of being overly polite is probably the year’s most shocking horror film, one that burrows itself under your skin for several days. That ending left me rattled and disturbed like very few films have been able to. And there’s no supernatural ghosts or monsters in this one; the horror is all too human here. One of the best films of 2022, Speak No Evil is an all-time great horror film.
4. Avatar: The Way of Water
James Cameron’s sequel to 2009’s Avatar is gigantic in more ways than one. Visually mesmerising, Avatar: The Way of Water truly might have been the biggest and most immersive cinematic experience of 2022. The Sully family has grown considerably but the sky people are back and Pandora is in danger once again. The Way of Water is just as good, if not better than its predecessor and proves once again that James Cameron is one of the finest filmmakers working in Hollywood today.
3. Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick has no business being as good as it is. Tom Cruise returns to play Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell who must train a new batch of eager wingmen for a dangerous new mission. One of the recruits is Rooster, the son of Maverick’s old friend Goose. The impressive cast is rounded out by Miles Teller, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connelly. Visually stunning with some high-stakes action, Top Gun: Maverick was one hell of a cinema experience.
2. Everything Everywhere All At Once
At the time of writing, it seems that Everything Everywhere All At Once has begun our new Best Picture favourite this awards season. And no wonder, it’s kind of great. Michelle Yeoh shines as the aging immigrant who tries to get her taxes in order while also battling a supernatural, multiversal entity. I still weep every time I think of the line “In another Life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you.”
Charlotte Wells’ affecting, emotional and deeply devastating Aftersun feels like a surprising no.1 on this list. 2022 has been defined by big, loud, brash blockbusters, but Wells’ film left me speechless in a way those other ones didn’t. It’s so understated and quiet in its exploration of a father-daughter relationship, I never saw the emotional impact coming. But came it did, and quite frankly, this one felt like a punch to the gut in the best possible way.
Honourable mentions: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Something In The Dirt, The Batman, X, The Worst Person In The World.